laptop bagWe're in the thick of January and classes and, sigh, responsibilities. It's time to get back to work.

No more wasting hours on what your folks quaintly call the "the YouTubes" and "the Facepads." Your laptop's newfound mission is to crank out quality reports. You must protect it, care for it, so you can continue to be a functional, productive, superstar student.

You need the best laptop bags (the very little) money (you have) can buy. Something that keeps the computer safe, that's easy to handle, that's professional. (No bright colors, fancy designs kids' or backpack cases. You're going to need a job soon).

We hit up Amazon and looked at a bunch of serious-looking black laptop bags offered up by four popular brands, assessing reviews, prices and the like, to give you a bit of guidance. All information is current as of Jan. 13 but is subject to change.Brand Name: Belkin
Best Selling: Nylon Case Messenger fits laptops up to 15.6-inches, features scratch-resistant fabric interior, access pocket for iPod, removable zippered pouch.
Reviews: It has one five-star review. ("Great bag with lots of space," claims Amazon reviewer Chelles). Belkin's Pace Clamshell has one three-star review. ("It is nice and elegant ... however it is a little difficult to put in and take out the laptop," wrote Troy17.)
Costs: Nylon Case Messenger, $22.49.

Brand Name: Case Logic
Best Selling: Case Logic VNC-17 17-inch Value Slimline, complete with organizer panel, adjustable internal compartment, and available for 13-inch and 15.4-inch laptops.
Reviews: 4.5-star averages for most products. ("Plenty of laptop room with a couple of inches of width to spare," says B. Whitt of VNC; "Very well padded," J. Ung says of VNA models.)
Costs: VNA models range from $21.39 to $26.99; VNC models (pictured above) , for $24.92 to $26.75.

Brand Name: Kensington
Best Selling: SP17 17-Inch Classic Sleeve features padded notebook compartment, and front and back exterior pockets.
Reviews: 4.5-star average rating for SP17 out of 45 reviews. ("Small and efficient," says Joel.)
Costs: SP17, $19.98.

Brand Name: Targus
Best Selling: Zip-Thru Traditional Case for 16-inch laptops, featuring airport-friendly split design separating laptop from accessories.
Reviews: Five-star average from 26 reviews for Zip-Thru. ("Looked as though I had paid a lot more for it than I did," says Casey B.)
Costs: Zip-Thru, $41.74.

What We Think: A ton of options, and seemingly a whole lot of satisfied customers across the board. But for the sheer number of options, not to mention consistently solid reviews and some good prices, we'd consider Case Logic.

Piet Levy's Compare and Contrast breaks down the prices and perks for products and services that college kids want. Find it every other week on WalletPop's Money College page. Send suggestions, including items or services that you want Levy to write about, to moneycollege@walletpop.com.

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